Kanye West is reportedly distancing himself from Jay Z’s Tidal music service and set to launch his next album — his seventh solo studio album — on Apple’s refreshed Beats Music service, rumored to arrive at this year’s WWDC in June.
Called SWISH, Kanye’s album currently has no official release date, although Wikipedia (for what it’s worth) claims it will drop on June 1. WWDC kicks off one week later on June 8 at Moscone West in San Francisco.
The news was first reported by Hits Daily Double, which has a pretty good record for music industry gossip and rumors. It’s certainly interesting — and comes at a time when both Tidal and Apple are pushing the importance of artist exclusives rather than simply price as a key factor in selling digital music services.
War (or, from Apple’s perspective, a small-scale skirmish) has been steadily ramping up between Tidal and Apple as of late. Apple has supposedly taken shots at Tidal by taking a long time to approve its app updates, resulting in the Tidal app falling out of the top 700 iPhone apps.
Robert Kondrk, vice president of iTunes Content, is also said to have told executives at Universal Music Group that Tidal artists who put out exclusive music on Jay Z’s service won’t be promoted as featured artists on iTunes.
Recently Jay Z hit back at Apple with a vicious freestyle diss during a concert in New York, in which he claimed that he refused to take the “safety net” offered by Beats co-founder and Apple employee Jimmy Iovine, and — controversially — hinted at a racist component to the anti-Tidal sentiment.
Kanye West, meanwhile, despite being a long-time Jay Z friend and collaborator, has been outspoken about his Apple love.
In particular, he has spoken previously about his love for “Jony Ives” (sic) and bragged about being the “next Steve Jobs.” Recently Kanye was spotted with a rare gold-band apple Watch Edition — previously worn only by (ironically) Jay Z’s wife Beyonce and Karl Lagerfeld.
We’ll have to wait and see if this rumor turns out to have any weight to it, but to my mind at least it definitely doesn’t seem out of the question that Kanye would align himself with his favorite brand if it means being one of the first artists out there to have an exclusive record on the revamped Beats service — rumored to be called simply Apple Music.